The Providence Bruins have collected yet another win in their impressive streak through the month of February when they defeated the Norfolk Admirals 3-0 on Friday night at Norfolk Scope in Norfolk, Virginia. The win is the P-Bruins 5th in a row and makes them 8-1-0-0 in the month of February and 31-17-0-3 (65 points) overall on the season. Providence remains in control of the Atlantic division, now 3 points ahead of the 2nd place Portland Pirates, who did not play tonight.
Niklas Svedberg made 21 saves in net, earning his 3rd shutout of the season and extending his personal unbeaten streak to 10 games. The rookie goaltender also earned his 25th win of the season, placing him only 1 win behind Rochester Americans goaltender David Leggio (who played tonight and lost) for 1st place in wins by AHL goaltenders this season.
On the opposite end of the rink, Admirals goaltender Igor Bobkov was pulled in the 2nd period after he gave up the 3rd goal of the game – a shorthanded goal to Trent Whitfield. Bobkov ended up surrendering 3 goals on 19 shots. Rookie goaltender Frederik Andersen finished the game without letting in any goals, making 13 saves.
Providence took 2 early penalties – hooking on Colby Cohen and tripping on Kyle MacKinnon – and successfully killed both off, thanks to Svedberg making a few brilliant saves. They then got their opportunity on the power play when Norfolk’s John Mitchell took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 14:40 of the 1st period. Providence wasted little time in drawing first blood.
The top star of the night was Providence forward Graham Mink, who had 2 power play goals. He scored his 1st on Providence’s 1st power play of the night when he deflected a shot from the point. It was his 4th goal of the season, with assists to Matt Bartkowski and Jordan Caron at 16:17 of the 1st period.
Providence went on the power play again with 2 seconds left in the 1st period when Brayden Irwin got a delay of game penalty. Coach Butch Cassidy opted to pull Svedberg with 2 seconds left and an offensive zone face-off, and although Bartkowski managed to score off the faceoff win, review of the goal determined that time on the clock had elapsed before the puck crossed the goal line.
Providence rebounded quickly at the start of the 2nd period, still on the power play when Mink scored his 2nd power play goal of the night to give Providence a 2-0 lead. This time, Mink was able to slam home the rebound of a Cohen shot from the point. Mink’s 5th goal of the season game at 0:46 of the 2nd and was assisted by Cohen and Bartkowski.
Mink was in the penalty box for the next goal, serving a bench minor for too many men at 8:02 of the 2nd period when Bartkowski – who had a brilliant game and earned 3rd star – sprung Whitfield up the left wing on a shorthanded bid that beat Bobkov. Whitfield’s 3rd goal of the season came at 8:07 of the 2nd and was assisted by Bartkowski, who picked up 3 assists total tonight.
Obviously with 2 power play goals and a shorthanded goal, specialty teams were the story of the game. Providence was 2-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. Providence now improves to 13-for-50 on the power play in the month of February thus far (26%) and 31-for-33 on the penalty kill (93.9%). They have outscored their opponents 35-19 (+16 goal differential) this month as well, out-shooting them 283 to 251, including 32 to 21 tonight.
Whitfield led all skaters with 5 shots on net, followed by Mink with 4. Alden Hirschfeld, MacKinnon, and Ryan Spooner each had 3. Caron, who had 1 assist and 1 shot, was stopped on a breakaway in the 1st period.
These two teams meet again at the Norfolk Scope in Norfolk, Virginia tomorrow night with a 7:15 puck drop.